Senior counsel Seán Guerin elected Bar council chairman – The Irish Times

Senior counsel Seán Guerin has been elected new chairman of the Bar council.

Mr Guerin was a senior counsel in many high-profile criminal trials, including prosecuting counsel in the trial of convicted murderer Graham Dwyer, representing families of victims of the 1981 Stardust nightclub fire at the recent inquest into the disaster, and has served for many years on the council’s professional practices committees.

He has been chairman of the criminal State Bar committee since 2022 and is a spokesman for the council in its continuing campaign for restoration of recession-era cuts to criminal legal aid fees.

Mr Guerin is a native of Co Wexford, studied law in Ireland and France before being called to the Bar here in 1997. He became a senior counsel in 2013 and practises mainly in public law, including criminal, regulatory and administrative law.

In a statement on Wednesday, he said it was a “great honour” to be elected as chairman of the council, with effect from September next. He expressed gratitude to his colleagues for their support and to the council’s outgoing chairwoman, Sara Phelan SC, for her “immense service”.

The values “of integrity, ceaseless diligence, fearless representation, and excellence” will continue to guide the Bar through the current changing legal environment, he said.

In a profession facing significant structural and technological change and social, political, and economic pressures, there is “a heavy onus” on the Bar council “to articulate those values and communicate the continuing importance of the profession of barrister to the maintenance of the rule of law and the protection of human rights”.

In 2014, Mr Guerin was commissioned by the government to report on then minister for justice Alan Shatter’s handling of complaints made by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Mr Shatter resigned after Mr Guerin’s report was published in May 2014 by then taoiseach Enda Kenny, who said he could not express confidence in the minister.

In 2019, the Supreme Court upheld Mr Shatter’s challenge to sections of the Guerin report because he received no notice of certain conclusions made by Mr Guerin which were damaging to Mr Shatter’s reputation.

The court said it was “far from critical” of Mr Guerin who had carried out his task with great thoroughness and admirable expedition. The terms of reference of his inquiry were “not clear”, the court said.

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